ESO publishes Pathway to 2030 – major step to deliver 50GW of offshore wind by 2030

  • Newly published Pathway to 2030 documents including the Holistic Network Design (HND) will enable Britain’s transition to net zero through 50GW offshore wind delivery by 2030
  • Documents represent £54bn investment in GB network infrastructure
  • Co-ordinated approach means consumer savings of £5.5 billion or £2.18 per year for every British energy consumer versus uncoordinated design.

The ESO, Great Britain’s electricity system operator, has today published Pathway to 2030 including the Holistic Network Design – a single, integrated approach to support large scale delivery of electricity from offshore wind for the nation.

The HND represents one of the largest investment plans in critical electricity transmission networks since the 1950s and 60s.

The publication will help ensure the nation’s electricity network meets growing consumer demand, while responding to Government ambitions for 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 and enabling the transition to net zero.

By considering future offshore generation out to 2030, infrastructure can be planned to bring power to the grid cohesively, ensuring maximum benefit for consumers, while minimising impact for local communities and the environment.

Developed with the Transmission Owners and working closely and in consultation with Ofgem, the UK, Scottish, and Welsh Governments, offshore wind developers and environmental stakeholders, the HND primarily includes offshore wind projects that secured seabed leases through The Crown Estate’s Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 and Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind Leasing Round.

The HND is a first of a kind, coordinated design for offshore and onshore transmission infrastructure to transport 23 GW of offshore wind, including locations in North and South Wales, the Scottish Islands and West Coast, and the East Coast of Scotland and Aberdeenshire, Lancashire, North-East England, and Yorkshire & Humber.

The 23 GW of offshore wind unlocked by the Pathway to 2030 in the HND could:

  • Deliver up to £54bn investment to the GB economy
  • Create up to 168,000 jobs by 2030, according to independent research*

Compared to a design which connected wind farms individually the approach set out today will:

  • Save consumers £5.5 billion in costs by 2030 by increasing network capacity compared to connecting wind farms individually
  • Reduce the impact on the seabed with up to a 30% smaller footprint from cables coming to shore
  • Reduce CO2 emissions between 2030 and 2032 by 2 mega tonnes – equivalent to grounding all UK domestic flights for a year – by facilitating the flow of cleaner, greener energy and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The next steps involve a follow on HND to include further offshore wind developments including all of ScotWind projects by Q1 2023.

Further, more detailed, network design will be taken forward which will include specific designs for projects by the organisations appointed through the regulatory process. These specific options will be designed and consulted on in future by the organisations appointed to fulfil the needs identified.

The maps in the documents are illustrative – they highlight an identified need to transmit volumes of electricity from point a to point b and do not represent specific transmission routes.

Fintan Slye, Executive Director, ESO,

The ESO is at the heart of strategic planning of the future energy system and is actively contributing to Britain’s energy security and a net zero future. The publication of the Holistic Network Design is a key step in providing certainty to offshore wind developers and mitigating potential impacts on the environment and local communities from energy infrastructure. 

It will also ensure the process provides value for money for consumers while meeting the Government’s ambition for up to 50 GW of offshore wind generation by 2030 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The HND was developed as part of National Grid ESO’s role in the Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR), launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in July 2020 to ensure that the transmission connections for offshore wind generation are delivered in the most appropriate way, considering the increased ambition for offshore wind to achieve net zero.

National Grid ESO, Government, Ofgem and Transmission Owners will take an innovative and collaborative approach to reducing the time taken to deliver onshore transmission projects to deliver the network infrastructure required to match Government ambitions.

The HND will be followed by a Detailed Network Design (DND) and consenting process to determine technology choices, transmission routes and where substations and converter stations will be located. These will be carried out by the organisation delivering the network infrastructure.